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Can blog posts be used as peer reviews?

There are many many amazing blogs and bloggers out there that provide critical comments, context, and feedback on the ‘formally published’ research literature. One problem with these though is that they are often divorced from the papers themselves, perhaps lost on obscure websites, or not hitting the right target audience. This seems like an awful waste, don’t you think?

While some great initiatives such as The Winnower will now publish blog posts openly, these still are not connected to the papers that they are based on, if they are indeed written about particular papers. But what do researchers think about blogging as a form of scholarly communication in the form of post-publication peer review?

So as with most of my ponderings, I took to Twitter to get some feedback with a little poll. I actually framed the question a little ambiguously, but this shouldn’t sufficiently skew the data in any direction (I hope).

What is interesting to me is that 41% of people who answered, who undoubtedly did not constitute just a researcher sample, do not consider blogging to ‘count’ as peer review. I would really love to know why this is the case for some people. Perhaps they haven’t seen good examples, or perhaps just because it’s not formalised in any way, and quite disassociated from the research literature.

So how can we increase the connectivity between the blogosphere and the published literature? Well, we can do that at ScienceOpen.

I believe that even if a blog post is not a detailed critique of a paper, it still can provide important context and commentary. Often bloggers will have actually read the whole paper too, to ensure they get the full story. This is valuable. This insight should be translated into something useful as an extension of the original research. In some cases, this IS research.

If we start to consider blog posts as peer review, then we might take another step towards ‘un-bundling’ the value of the modern peer reviewed journal. If you have an editorially controlled thematic collection, with pre-prints, and overlayed peer review from the blogosphere, then there is really very little left that is required to maximise the value of that research. And all for almost zero cost too!

Modern bloggers can build a following and influence others through the act of producing consistently high quality content, complete with references and sound arguments. They don’t need journals and papers to publish their work, or for credibility. But journals and papers could use them to greatly enhance their content through that additional layer of post-publication peer review.

Oh, the point of all this? Well, what can you do? If you write about a research paper on your blog, do it. And then find that paper in our archive of over 16 million article records, and publish it as a peer review. Our post-publication peer review system is surprisingly simple to use as it’s moderated through ORCID. If you don’t have a sufficient ORCID record to formally peer review on our site, simply post the post as a comment. Easy!

For your work, you will be rewarded with a CC BY licensed ‘publication’, a CrossRef DOI, and instant integration with platforms such as ORCID, Publons, and ImpactStory! How cool is that?

So, make your blogs count!